Debate on compulsory vaccination: is Omikron changing the rules of the game?
Created: 01/17/2022 04:51
A man is vaccinated against the corona virus in a fitness studio in Hamburg.
© Marcus Brandt/dpa
The corona variant Omicron is highly contagious, but probably causes milder disease progression.
What does this mean for the debate about compulsory vaccination?
Berlin – The rapid spread of the omicron variant, which is usually associated with a rather mild course of the disease, strengthens the concerns of critics of general corona vaccination.
"Omicron is changing the rules of the game," said the parliamentary manager of the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Stephan Thomae, of the "Süddeutsche Zeitung". “Now is not the time to just do anything and decide on the toughest possible measures just to show willingness to act. It's about doing the right thing at the right time.”
A few days ago, the chairwoman of the German Ethics Council, Alena Buyx, made it clear that the committee might have to reconsider its recommendation for an extended vaccination requirement.
The attitude also depends on which corona variant dominates the infection process, she told the “Spiegel”.
When the majority of the Ethics Council recommended extending compulsory vaccination to significant parts of the population in December, this was done “essentially under the conditions of the Delta variant”.
Omicron variant is considered highly contagious
The proponents consider vaccination to be necessary because, according to many experts, the vaccination rate in Germany has so far been too low to contain the pandemic in the long term. After the previous federal government had strictly rejected such an obligation, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) spoke out in favor of it in November before taking office. At that time, the delta variant, which in many cases leads to more severe disease progression, was still determining the course of the pandemic in Germany.
In the meantime, the omicron variant has prevailed, which is considered highly contagious but has a milder course.
For the advocates of compulsory vaccination - all prime ministers are now in favor of it - that changes little or nothing.
The unvaccinated person who is now getting an omicron infection will have little protection against other variants in the fall, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) wrote on Twitter.
"Omicron does not replace vaccination."
The Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) said in the picture program “The Right Questions”: “I think we will only get out of this pandemic if we now introduce this compulsory vaccination – no matter which variant.” He hopes that the federal government to quickly submit a draft.
However, that is not planned.
According to plans by the SPD, FDP and Greens, the Bundestag should decide on compulsory vaccination in a free vote without parliamentary group specifications.
It is expected that parliamentarians across party lines will come together and submit so-called group motions.
The background is also openly visible different positions in the traffic light rows - especially from the FDP, widespread reservations have already been voiced.
FDP supports group motions
Deputy FDP chairman Johannes Vogel defended his party's stance.
In the summer, all parties were still against compulsory vaccination, he said on ZDF.
The situation has changed with the more contagious Delta variant, and it may change again with Omicron.
He thinks it is appropriate to decide on a question of medical ethics across faction boundaries.
It is therefore right that there will be group motions in the Bundestag instead of a government motion.
more on the subject
Anne Will: Lauterbach fears major omicron problems for those who have recovered and even for those who have been vaccinated twice
In the event of violations of possible vaccination requirements: Holetschek wants to get to the health insurance company
Vaccination obligation: President of the Bundestag steps on the brakes – “don’t break anything over your knee”
The MP Dagmar Schmidt, who works in the SPD parliamentary group on corresponding applications, specified initial considerations: "A vaccination - if it comes - will be limited," she told the "Süddeutsche Zeitung".
"It's about achieving basic immunity in the population.
At the moment we assume that three vaccinations protect relatively well.
Then that would be it.”
Lauterbach also said at the weekend that, in his view, compulsory vaccination should include three doses of vaccine.
The CSU health expert Stephan Pilsinger called such a determination premature.
Unfortunately, it cannot be foreseen with certainty whether dangerous variants could require additional vaccinations, he told the “Augsburger Allgemeine”.
immunity from contamination
The virologist Klaus Stöhr first expects a rapid spread, then a natural immunization of the population - and finally an end to the pandemic.
"In the next two to three weeks there will be uncertainty as to how high the incidence will rise," he said on the TV station Bild.
According to this, many people would get a natural immunity due to the severe contagion, which would be “planted on top” of the immunization through vaccinations.
Both together will lead to lasting immune protection, so that you don't have to keep boosting.
In the fall you have to see if you can offer vaccinations to those over 60 again.